Skip to main content

Verticals vs. Crossbows: Which Bow Will Rule the Archery World?

Verticals vs. Crossbows: Which Bow Will Rule the Archery World?

vs_xbow_comp_f3Verticals

Let's face it: Crossbows have a certain cool, fantasy character panache, they just aren't as versatile as a vertical bow. Besides, they aren't as safe.

Vertical bows weigh less and are far more maneuverable. Plus, for the most part, they're much quieter. I worked partway through college in an archery pro shop, and you could always tell when someone was shooting a crossbow in the indoor lanes. Instead of the ageless, almost silent thrummm of a vertical bow, a crossbow gives off a spiteful crack.

Perhaps most importantly, fast follow-up shots are possible with a vertical bow. Not so with a crossbow: Get out the crank, untangle the drawstring, hook the blasted thing up, and pull that thing to full draw. Unhook the crank and drawstring, put them away, fish out a bolt, and gingerly lay it in place. Ugh.


As for safety, you can't just let down a cocked crossbow if you decide not to shoot. You cock it at the beginning of your hunt, and at the end, you've got to fire the durned thing. That means either dulling a broadhead or carefully switching out your hunting arrow with one with a field point or judo point on it and firing at the nearest clump of grass.


Finally, you'll hear the argument that crossbows are easier to shoot accurately and thus more ethical. Balderdash. I'll concede that if you never practice, you can likely pick up a properly sighted-in crossbow and make better hits with it than with a vertical bow, but that's pure laziness talking.

Bowhunting isn't about convenience. Pit most crossbow shooters against good vertical bow shooters, and nine times out of 10 the vertical bow shooter will smoke the crossbow shooter in terms of accuracy and have the course of fire finished far sooner.

— Joseph von Benedikt

Crossbows


You know what's ironic about crossbows? The same grey-haired traditionalists that have rejected every new-fangled contraption since the compound bow are the same folks that stand to benefit from this most recent innovation.

Fact: Crossbows allow the chronically injured, disabled, or those otherwise incapable of drawing a vertical bow to go afield during bow season, thus extending the days that these folks (who are mostly elderly) can hunt.

So if you oppose the use of crossbows, you hate the elderly...and likely hate America. Shame on you.


Contrary to popular belief, crossbows aren't more dangerous than verticals, either. It's a myth. There have been no more documented cases of injuries and/or accidents with x-bows than there have with verticals. If you look at 30 years of data, accident rates are identical for both types. Crossbows also come complete with an overwhelming amount of safety instructions, handguards, and other mechanisms to prevent users from stumbling into injury.

X-bows are also faster and more deadly — roughly 30-40 fps and 30 foot-pounds of kinetic energy more than compounds. But speed isn't always the answer. While the vertical bow guy is standing over there, knees trembling, worrying about when to draw on that giant buck or bull, crossbow guy is in point-and-shoot mode.

The result is more ethical, well-placed shots that aren't hampered by the various roadblocks thrown down by the need to draw and hold a vertical bow. Sure, skilled archers that shoot compounds can most likely match crossbow hunters in accuracy, but they can never duplicate ease of use in the most intimate hunting situations.

— Ben O'Brien

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Hunting Coues Deer South of the Border

Hunting Coues Deer South of the Border

Former Delta Force Operator Kyle Lamb hikes the rugged desert mountains of northern Sonora in pursuit of the diminutive Coues species of whitetail.

Stuffed Elk Backstrap Recipe

Stuffed Elk Backstrap Recipe

Take your venison loin to a whole new level with this delicious reverse-seared stuffed elk backstrap. Smoking the backstrap on a Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill first, then finishing it on a blazing-hot skillet or flattop, creates a perfectly cooked, medium-rare steak with a crispy, seared exterior. The filling of diced mushrooms and creamy Boursin cheese adds a whole new level of amazing flavors to an otherwise classic smoked venison loin.

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Kevin Steele sights in his CZ .557 carbine rifle that he plans to use on a Colorado elk hunt.

Is That a Grizzly Bear?

Is That a Grizzly Bear?

Kevin Steele and Jason Morton are above the Arctic Circle pursuing grizzly bears in Alaska and put a stalk on what they believe is a good one.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these guns.Which Firearm Is Best for Bear Defense? Survival

Which Firearm Is Best for Bear Defense?

Larry Case - July 11, 2018

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these...

Learn what freezer burn is, how it occurs, and how to slow it down with these tips.Why Freezer Burn Matters Recipes

Why Freezer Burn Matters

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Learn what freezer burn is, how it occurs, and how to slow it down with these tips.

Crossbow technology, accuracy and power continue to advance with demand, and this year's crop is the most impressive yet; here's a look at the top five that caught our eye.Ranking the 5 Best Crossbows for 2020 Bowhunting

Ranking the 5 Best Crossbows for 2020

Chris Larsen - September 21, 2020

Crossbow technology, accuracy and power continue to advance with demand, and this year's crop...

See More Trending Articles

More How-To

A successful western hunt doesn't begin with elk. You first need to develop some experience as well as skills.Western Hunting 101 North America Big Game

Western Hunting 101

Joseph von Benedikt

A successful western hunt doesn't begin with elk. You first need to develop some experience as...

Breeding season is over, elk are smart, but competition is low.How to Kill a Giant Post-Rut Elk North America Big Game

How to Kill a Giant Post-Rut Elk

Mark Kayser

Breeding season is over, elk are smart, but competition is low.

We give hunters an edge on hunting public land close to home.Public Land Hunter Magazine Now on Sale

Public Land Hunter Magazine Now on Sale

Game & Fish Staff - July 21, 2020

We give hunters an edge on hunting public land close to home.

See More How-To

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now